A message from Hugh Roberts, an i2i Author and Director of the Society of Authors
Several i2i published authors are already members of the Society of authors, but not all! If you are interested but not yet convinced, here are a few factors that might persuade you to join us.
The Society goes back to 1884 when its founders and early supporters included great names in literature such as Alfred Lord Tennyson. Early on it was a focus for writers of every genre such as JM Barrie, Arthur Conan Doyle, George Bernard Shaw, Rudyard Kipling, Halford Mackinder, Rider Haggard and Thomas Hardy. Artists and musicians also joined such as Edward Elgar, John Ruskin, Lawrence Alma-Tadema and William Rosetti. Unusually for that era, there were many women among early members such as Cicely Hamilton, campaigner for women’s rights, Marie Belloc Lowndes, Ethel Tweedie and Mary Braddon Maxwell.
The Society is a Trade Union for professional authors It also runs charities responsible for a wide range of substantial legacies and bequests by successful writers to encourage new authorship. These are valued at over £10m from which we make annual awards for fiction, non fiction, translators, scriptwriters and poetry writers at all stages of their careers. We also give grants of over £330,000 per annum to help authors “buy time to write” Over the last two years a lot of authors have suffered significant hardship directly or otherwise related to the pandemic. Using our own funds and substantial donations from, for example the Arts Council and the Royal Literary Fund, we have been making awards to writers who can demonstrate their financial difficulties. To date we have paid out over £1.7m in awards to more than 1,500 writers.
We take many opportunities to lobby on behalf of authors and writers generally, not only with publishers but with government and the media in many forms.
Among the valuable services offered to members is the opportunity to have publishing contracts reviewed and the SoA’s input and advice on any dispute or query in relation to publishing: however small. The Society has a range of expertise, both legal and commercial, provided by staff with wide experience including previous employment within the publishing industry. We offer guidance at every stage of their careers for professional writers, whether or not they aim to make writing a full time occupation.
Our new headquarters building was completed at Bedford Row in Bloomsbury, London just before the Covid pandemic. But it has stayed open throughout the last 2 years and now actively welcomes members and staff alike who prefer a return to face to face work and networking. However members all over Britain and Ireland as well as internationally, also have the benefit of local chapters of the Society whose activities have grown enormously during the last two years of online communication.
We now have a Council of many of the ‘great and good’ of the modern literary world including Philip Pullman our President, Tracy Chevalier, Margaret Drabble, Hilary Mantel, JK Rowling, Joanna Trollope, Tom Stoppard, Ian Rankin, Ben Okri, Roger McGough and Kazuo Ishiguro. There are 12 elected members of our Management Committee of the Society who are responsible for day to day business and administration conducted by some 25 full time equivalent staff. The Management Committee is chaired by Joanne Harris and after 3 years membership since 2018, I was re-elected to the Committee in late 2021 for a further 3 year term.
If you are interested in joining, you will doubtless want to review our website at societyofauthors.org Our membership covers all types of writers, illustrators and literary translators at every stage of their careers. From journalists to webcomic artists, scriptwriters to bloggers, novelists to games writers, and translators to performance poets, our members work in a wide range of disciplines and you can join us from the time you start actively working towards being an author.Our annual member fee is a modest at £121 (concessions £88).
Whether it will be because you seek expert advice during your carefully planned assault on the world of literature, or because you want to network with fellow authors in the often lonely and forbidding world of writing and getting published, you will not be disappointed with membership of the Society. Come and join us!